Sunday, November 6, 2011

good news minute [DeMille en Chile]

remember this gorgeous girl?
Well all you heartbroken boys can stop wondering why she hasn't returned your calls for the last seven months...
Hermana DeMille has been WAY south of our borders serving a mission in Chile.
{As for anyone waiting 7+ months for that call,
I don't know what to say other than that it's likely she just wasn't that into you.
Don't take it too personally
I'm sure you're not totally unattractive, socially challenged and creepy.
You're likely just one or two of the three...}

With that said, I would like to take this moment to acknowledge how absolutely, positively,  120-percent [plus some] right I was in my prediction that Kaitlin would be an incredible missionary.
[then again, when am I not absolutely, positively, 120-percent right about something?
right sweetie?]

my spiritual giant of a sister-in-law had five convert baptisms this weekend.
{now imagine a bunch of exclamation points!!!
I had to resort to using an image to do it justice.
The bump in font size just wasn't cuttin' it.}

I realize she is simply acting on inspiration and sharing the Gospel with those the Lord has prepared to receive it,
and I know she'd be so embarrassed to see me announcing this to the world
{especially now that she's spent the last 7 months of her life learning and teaching humility...
not to worry,
I'm the top priority pupil on her post-mission list}
yet I still cannot keep to myself when it comes to expressing how incredibly proud of her I am.
know her testimony has had an impact on these people.
I am certain they've grown in their faith through her example.
I am convinced her genuine love for those she teaches has helped them better understand their Savior's love.
And I am positive they have been inspired by her love for the Lord and His Gospel and the sacrifices she's made to be there to share it.

How am I positive?
Because i am inspired anytime I think of the lives she is blessing and forever changing because of her decision to be that instrument in the Lord's hands.

 I could go on and on and on,
but all you really need to know is that we are so, so proud and thankful, 
in this month of November, 
for missionaries like Kaitlin who dedicate this precious time in their lives to sharing and spreading this message of hope and happiness.
[My family forever changed because of this missionary effort.
You can learn why here and here.
And here too!]
In case you'd like a recap on Kaitlin's mission so you can be up to speed when you write her and tell her how fabulous she is,
here's a few fun facts about the DeMille in Chile.
It's more fun, and makes my title seem more clever, if you pronounce it {DeMee-lay} in {Chee-lay}.
[like the natives!
get it?!]
note: My narcissistic alter-ego may have slipped a bit of commentary into the post as well...
whatever will we do with me?
happy reading!!!

Kaitlin is serving in the Chile Viña del Mar mission which covers about 428 km. 
[Which is about 265 miles for all of us Americans or
the distance from Salt Lake to Cedar City for anyone like me who has no concept of distance, space, or time unless it's quantified in terms of people, places or things I do know and understand.]
She spent her first 3 transfers 
[6-week time blocks] 
in a town called San Francisco 
[not to be confused with the SF in California's Bay Area]
and just transferred 7 hours north to La Serena.
She had a tough time leaving San Francisco because of how much she'd come to love the people there
[there may have been a few tearful goodbyes]
but she's already loving La Serena for the people AND the breeze.
[I guess it's on the coast.
According to Kaits the breeze is the greatest blessing considering how HOT HOT HOT it is right now.
Which leads me to our next point...]
The seasons in Chile are exactly opposite ours.
It's like Christmas in July
{Christmas weather at least}
with the sweltering heat settling in just as the snow starts to fall in SLC.
I love this weather blip from Kaitlin's email:
"Oh boy, summer is here!  
Well,'s not.  
But holy cow is it HOT.
 I want winter back.  
hahaI never thought I'd say that one.  
It's going to stay super hot like this until December and then be WAY hotter until at least March.  
It's just so hot already.  
I sweat like crazydripping.
I can't imagine what summer is going to be like if I'm already dripping sweat."
Lol—don't you just love her?!
She paints such a vivid picture.
I'm burning up just reading it!
['s from the mountain of blankets I've burrowed under to stay warm.
Why is there snow on our front lawn in November?
And why is my husband so bent on sleeping with the windows open when there is snow on our front lawn in November?
Oh of course.
Because he's lost touch with reality and is convinced he lives in a sauna.
No steam rooms here baby...
just your wife's lungs pooling with fluid as she surrenders to a serious case of pneumonia.
And I thought waking up to an apartment so freezing that I began to consider a reputation of poor punctuality at work a positive alternative to climbing out of bed was bad.
{Let's note too how this has created an environment in which a smooth shave is so speedily undermined that I've started to wonder if I should forgo the frustration and effort and just embrace my more primal instincts.
When I'm shunned from society I can at least get a gig with Geico for the "so easy a cavewoman can do it" campaign — oh so sexy!}
You ready to close that window yet sweetie?
I thought so...]
Chile lies on the convergent plate boundary of the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, making it a hotspot for mega-thrust earthquakes for over 500 million years.
The 2010 Chile earthquake was the strongest earthquake worldwide until the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake hit Japan earlier this year.
It is still considered the sixth largest earthquake ever measured.
I realize sixth doesn't seem all that impressive, but considering it was 501 times more forceful than the tragic earthquake that devastated Haiti in January of that year, I respect its rank.
Chile also holds the record for the largest measured earthquake of all time
for those of you who can't appreciate anything less than #1.
While these city-shifting earthquakes occur every few years,
tremors are a regular occurrence in Chile.
Our little missionary is now very aware of that fact.
{Here's an email excerpt documenting her first experience with an earthquake...}
"So the scary part first. We had a little earthquake...nothing big. They have two names for earthquakes here: a temblor, which is 6 magnitude and under, and a terromoto which is anything above that. Wednesday morning, a little after 4, I woke up because I needed the bathroom. Within seconds everything started shaking. We have a lot of temblors here during the night and I've felt a lot that have woken me up, but they're super short and not very strong. But this one (although it wasn't very long) was a lot longer and a lot stronger. A few things fell in the house next to ours and listening to that and the sound of all our dishes going everywhere was eerie. Plus the sound the earth makes is seriously horrible! I was terrified. It was probably only 15 seconds but it felt like a lot longer than that. I was just praying the whole time that it wouldn't get worse because it start out pretty strong and just got stronger and stronger the longer it went. I couldn't sleep after that and I didn't dare go to bathroom because I was so scared haha."
As every missionary serving in a foreign country eventually faces the grand inquisition about the food, here's a few insights on Kaitlin's experiences with Chilean cuisine.
the Columbian completo
"Only one picture this week [pictured above]. This was the result of our P-day district activity. Gross huh?  It's a Columbian completo. Here in Chile, the completos are the hotdog, bun, a TON of mayo, a TON of guacamole (not like good homemade stuff; this kind's super runny) and ketchup. 
Sounds tasty right? 
Ha, no, I don't like them. 
My first time they all teased me saying my completo wasn't complete because I left off all the mayo and only had a tiny bit of guacamole and ketchup. The Columbian one actually wasn't too bad though. It looks disgusting but it was okay. It's the hot dog, bun, onions, crushed up potato chips, pineapple sauce with chunks of pineapple, melted cheese and ketchup. They tried to feed us two but I quit after the first. 
so. much. food!!!"
tomatoes are a staple
"So you will never believe this one...I like tomatoes.  Like, not love.  
{I love that clarification.}
They're there pretty much in every meal and they make me eat them. I used to dread it. I still don´t love it when it's just tomatoes. I like them with lettuce at least. So I guess I still don't love them but they´re okay now.  
I still don't like fish though. So far there hasn't been a ton of fish, but I still remember my first week I had a "salad" which turned out to be straight up tomatoes and tuna. And that's when i didn't like tomatoes yet. It was awful..."
{If it's any consolation Kaits, tuna is so not fish.
It is cat food in a can.
And any of you who disagree can go eat your mayo-slathered kitty-cat food and breathe your faux-fishy criticisms on a tuna-hater who cares to smell hear them.
note: My distaste for tuna only extends to the fare that lives in can.}
check out the Chilean hot dog
"We had Churi-pan for lunch. It's like a hot dog but the meat is better. The Latins load it up with mayo and usually with a salsa called pebre, but there's lots of cilantro in it so it's a no-go for me.  
{Note: Kaits is allergic to cilantro}
I stick to ketchup and mustard."
serving size: GRANDE
"Yes, I´m still gaining weight.  
{¡ay, ay, ay!}
But on the bright side, I might have an excuse to tell the members here that I can't eat much.
  I keep getting not the flu but my stomach kills me. It started out when I got here then stopped for about two weeks, but it's started back up again and is so bad. It's my stomach — it feels like someone is wringing it out like a rag then soaking it in acid.  It hurts so badly. And then I feel like puking all day long til we get home and I do puke and then finally I feel fine. 
But yesterday we were eating with the Alvarado and I had to run to the bathroom to throw up. I was so embarrassed.
Anyway, normally we have P-days off from almuerzo {lunch}, but there's an Hermana here that "always" eats with the missionaries on her birthday and gets super, super offended and really easily too, so we pretty much had to go. Luckily I had an excuse not to eat because my stomach is still a little eh, but holy cow my poor companion!  We dread eating there every week
1. because it´s like Thanksgiving dinner after you've fasted 
2. the food isn't very good and is loaded with mayo and butter 
and 3. the cat is always in the kitchen eating the food.  
It's really dirty in there...
So we spent our P-day there today but I didn't really have to eat, which means my stomach doesn't hurt—happy day! We're not sure if my stomach is still adjusting to the food or portion sizes or what but we're going to wait it out longer before we go see if anything's wrong.  I'll keep you updated. For now I really think I am going to try and tell the members that I can't eat everything and just see if that helps.  I'm about 99% sure that it will."
"So my stomach has been better since I started telling the members to give me a little less. Thank goodness! One or two of them were a little weird about it at first, but I think they're good now...I hope. I don't want to offend them, but I don't want to be sick all day throwing up either. I haven't had as much pain, so it looks like we might have found the answer. No more grande portion sizes for me.
p.s. My jeans still fit! SO happy about that one." 
best. feeling. ever.]
Hermana DeMille has earned herself a nickname in Chile:
check it...
It appears that the people of La Serena are fixated on making it stick:
"In less than 24 hours here, I've been called Barbie 3 times. And now, it's an everyday occurrence. I hate it. 
{How dare someone give you this multi-billon dollar moniker or compare you to the beaming plastic icon of idealized beauty!!! 
oh the nerve...}
I have never wanted to dye my hair so bad. But at the same time I can't.  
I would miss it too much and would probably look funny.
In my last area I only got called Barbie once. It was mostly my eyes that people would comment on, but here, it's creepy guys calling me Barbie. I've never felt so uncomfortable in a place."
{oh...that's why you hate it.
little creepers!}
I wonder if flea collars work on missionaries too...
I do.
Especially now that poor Kaitlin has fleas!!!
Oh it's so comical but oh so sad too.
I wonder if she'd think it's funny if we sent her a flea collar for Christmas.
[What a genius idea!
How have we not thought of this before?
I bet we can find a bunch that could totally pass as anklets and bracelets and play it all off as a new U.S. fashion trend. And what if it caught? We could save a nation people! 
Think about it...]
Come to find out, flea collars are not such a genius idea.
Apparently they can make you sterile.
Be advised.
Agnostic Fleas
I think this is hilarious and so wonderfully ironic.
he he he

I love how enthusiastic she is about her wingless friends:

"2 months in Chile!!!! And I can officially say I have fleas. Yay!!!
Last Sunday we had ward counsel and my neck just started itching like crazy! I went and checked afterwards and found about 20 bites on my neck and chest. I have about 20 other random bites on my arms & feet too. It's lovely."
We hoped she'd be free of fleas by the time she moved to La Serena, but apparently the warmer spring weather accompanies an increase in flea population. Here's the latest:
"We still have days when it's a little cold but lots of days when it's really hot and it's only going to get worse. The fleas are getting worse too. I need to take a picture for you guys sometime. The ward members laugh because we're in skirts everyday and they can see all my bright red flea bites and dark bite scars on my legs too. It's ugly. Not to mention how big the flea bites are. It's gross. The mosquitos are coming out now too and they're MASSIVE. The ones in Utah are tiny compared to these suckers. The only real plus about spring is that there's is light in the morning and in the night. I love that."
While we're on the subject of creepy crawlies, let's visit the spider story.
Of course I still vote my spider story as the more scarring of the two.
[I may be a teeny bit biased...]
Even still  whoever thought that terming these blasted arachnids with cutesy adjectives like "itsy bitsy" and "eensy weensy" would make them any less creepy was seriously misled.
Take it away Kaits...
"We should have taken a picture before we killed it, but we found a spider in our pension that was so seriously massive and creepy that we couldn't run the risk of a getaway. It wasn't a brown recluse or anything like that but holy creepy! I went in to go into the bathroom one night after planning and it was just hanging out on the wall in front of me. I almost touched it by accident. SO gross!!! 
Hermana Stallings said it's not normal to have a bunch of spiders in pensions so hopefully that's the last we'll see of them. It was seriously like the size of 4 quarters all spread out on a table though. Ewww..."

Kaitlin can now speak-o the Spanish.
Let's just say the gift of tongues is a reality and such a gift to our missionaries.
Kaitlin's only been out in the field for a few months now and she's likely a thousand times better at Spanish than I've ever been.
[Which is super sad considering I studied the language for oh...7 years.]
Just like any new missionary, she had to fight through the transition from the MTC to the field, but she's doing so awesome! 
This is from an email she wrote shortly after she transferred to La Serena:
"I'll hit my 6-month mark this week. Can you believe it? 6 months in total and 4 months in Chile. And I can understand! Well, I don't understand every word all the time but it is so much better. It really started picking up the last week of my second cambio and was so much better the first week of this cambio and is WAY better now. It's progressed so rapidly and I am so thankful for all of your prayers and for all the blessings Heavenly Father's sent my way. It was so frustrating to me not to be able to understand anyone my first cambio and I sometimes wondered why the heck I was here if I couldn't help anyone. I know, bad.
{Oh Kaits, you are too funny!
I'm certain every missionary serving in a foreign country has had those moments.}
But it is so nice to be able to understand and converse with people. I even have a little personality now! haha. I don't know that I ever made you guys laugh but I have never had so much fun making people laugh here. Maybe it's my Spanish..."
In fact, Kaitlin is so immersed in the language that she's developed that endearing missionary Spanglish.
A few of my favorite substitutions:
divisions for splits
cambios for transfers
direction for address
assisting for attending
I love the way she's started placing the noun in front of the adjective like Spanish too.
i.e. the family Alvarado
Here's a funny excerpt from an email evidencing the momentary memory loss of the English word for "peach":
"The 18th of September in Chile is like our 4th of July on steroids. They celebrate for 4 days!!! What's great is that gave us plenty of time for our ward activity. The ward is small here so the activity was super fun and low key. There was music (just like the Spanish music that is out on that ranch near Chris' house). We played soccer, basketball, and a bunch of other little games too. One of the members brought a bike that lets two people sit and pedal [a tandem bike perhaps?] and there were kites and jump ropes and a huge tug-o-war with all the women against all the men. It was fun and so funny. And, of course, there was lots of food.

One of the members here cooks for her work. Because empenadas are huge for this holiday she had to make about 400 of them. Crazy! So we decided to help out. It was fun but holy cow she works fast. We could hardly keep up!  
For dessert we had something that is special to Chile. It's called mote con huesillo. It has...oh I can´t remember the name in English...
durazno in Spanish...
I'm going to start a new email and hopefully I remember by then...
[new email...]
haha sorry."

"Special Musical Numbers" are truly special in Chile.
 "Yesterday I played a number on the piano in Church. The bishop asked me last week to play one so I ended up playing 'Praise to the Man.'  It's kind of funny and sad at the same time because all of the members here know and love that song, but after sacrament meeting every single person that talked to me asked me what song I'd played haha.  It's sad because really, they don't ever get anything like that here. It is one of the many reasons that I feel so blessed. There are so many things that are normal for us that most people here only dream about. Knowing how to play the piano is SUPER, SUPER rare here. I'm so happy I have the opportunity to change that, at least for awhile."
FYI: This is a picture of Kaitlin's last district and her fabulous companion Sister Jacobo from her last transfer in San Francisco.
Does anyone else think missionary companionship quarrels sound a bit like marriage at times?
I see it!
To date, Kaitlin's had great companions. Of course all roommates have their quirks, but she's so easy-going and kind that she's never made much mention of it. She's just appreciated their kindness and patience with her as she's acclimated to the country.
Her switch to La Serena brought with it a fun challenge
{and no, I'm not talking about being nicknamed Barbie}.
Hermana DeMille finally has one of those companions.
She such a trooper!
She's so good about the whole situation too.
Notice how kindly she highlights their differences:
"Well, I am still learning lots of patience this week. We still have had a little bit of a hard time in our companionship. We are both a little stubborn and headstrong.
{Is she talking about me and Parker?
I'm so confused...}
Before it was only about how I could change and I am fine to try to change things, but it was really hard to have the right attitude about it because she wasn't very tactful in how she stated things and she didn't seem willing to make concessions or change at all.
{Is anyone else picturing a marital tiff?
I think the resemblance is uncanny.
too funny...}
We had a good talk last night and I think we finally figured things out. I think we're still going to have bumps along the way, but now that she's willing to do something to work towards better unity I feel more willing too. I have been trying to have a lot of patience these last two weeks, but it has been so hard. I know I haven't had the patience that I've needed, but I hope it's getting better. I feel like I know what everyone is talking about when they talk about companions that make them stretch and grow. I feel like this will be one of those times, but I am worried about getting the companions that REALLY make you stretch and grow.
{If that's the case, you may want to rethink the whole marriage thing once you're home girly...
jus' kiddin'!!!
Marriage is a million-and-one moments of pure bliss.
I mean, we never fight...}
Chile just celebrated 50 years of missionary work!  
I didn't realize it was such a production!
Because Kaitlin transferred to La Serena [a seven hour bus ride away] the week prior, she unfortunately wasn't able to attend.
I still think it's sweet she's in Chile for such a big anniversary
{hence my recording it}.
The final even was a spectacular celebration in the Santa Laura stadium in Santiago. "Creemos"
[We Believe]
Check out the pics I borrowed from the mission blog!
Kaitlin has truly come to love those she's serving.
I love this aspect of missionary work!
[and Church callings, and volunteering, and wifing...]
Kaits shared this about a family she taught in San Francisco.
{Cristian, Ada and little Cristian hijo became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this October!}

"It was really special. I was on the verge of tears (of joy of course) the whole night. I just can't help but think that this is just the beginning. You should hear how they talk about the temple. They are so excited to go and I am so happy I will still be here to see them sealed together forever. Ah, I am just so excited for this family! He's going to be a future bishop, she's going to be the future Relief Society president and Cristian hijo is going to go on a mission. He's already thought about it! It's just all so amazing...

Anyway, sorry that I'm rambling on but I am so happy for them. Seeing them and how happy they are to have and live the Gospel has changed me. I know why I wanted to serve a mission and I knew why I was here but seriously, seeing this process step by step and seeing their change and how happy they are has really change my perspective on why I am here. Not that I had the wrong reasons for coming...nothing like that.  It's just that being a part of this for them and seeing how the Gospel does change lives has changed me too. They were happy before. They were fine before. But just having the Gospel in their lives now...they have even more joy, more unity, more perspective, more everything. It's made me more excited to share my testimony and the Book of Mormon and this Gospel. I love it. I'm so happy I'm here."
[We love it too.]

And, like every great missionary, Kaitlin is growing too.
What I love most about Hermana DeMille's letters is seeing how clearly she is growing in her understanding of Gospel.
Kaits loves what she's doing because she loves the message she's there to share.
She knows it's true, 
she always has, 
but she's being reminded of that fact every day.
And I love that!
I am so happy she has this opportunity and so happy she made the decision to take it.
We're so proud of her and love her more than she knows and will probably ever care to know.
{I'm serious.
Poor Parker is smothered on a daily basis.
I kind of feel like this little heart of mine feels a little too much.
It can't be healthy...}
And because I can't think of a better way to close than with her words, that's exactly what I'm going to do.
Take it away Kaits...
"I have been thinking this week especially in how lucky I am to have the Gospel in my life. I started reading the Book of Mormon over again, but this time I'm focusing only on the Atonement. It is crazy how many things I'm seeing that I haven't ever seen or thought of before. I thought about all the times in my life when I haven't been happy or was suffering for some reason or another as I read the BOM with this focus and realized...we create our own misery. We create our own pain and suffering. I knew that, but I don't know...I'm kind of getting a different perspective on it. I feel so lucky to have the Gospel in my life and I know it's why I'm happy. I am so happy. I am so grateful. The Lord is seriously stretching me so much and sometimes I think I can't go there and that I don't want to, but then I think well, if I don't let Him, I won't progress. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission and help others receive the Gospel but I also see now and am so grateful for all that it is doing for me. I have a LOT to learn and to grow but I already feel so different than before because of the way I've tried to let the Gospel stretch me and change me. That's something I don't think I really did a lot before in my life, and I hope I don't ever stop. I am so happy."

coming up...
good news minute [forever Prado]

1 comment:

  1. sooo. Drew says that all the time :) he always used to tell me that his mission prepared him for a marriage because you have similar fights, it gets you used to having to think about someone else but they aren't as sexy and you don't get any (ahem) perks on the mission ;)